Hubble Looks at Stunning Starburst Spiral Galaxy

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured this vivid image of a spiral galaxy called LEDA 42975.

This Hubble image shows the starburst spiral galaxy LEDA 42975. The color image was made from separate exposures taken in the visible and near-infrared regions of the spectrum with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). It is based on data obtained through four filters. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / O. Graur / L. Shatz.

LEDA 42975 is located approximately 48 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo.

Also known as IRAS 12425-0011 and UGC 7926, the galaxy is undergoing a particularly intense episode of star formation.

“LEDA 42975’s burst of star formation is driving an unusual form of extreme galactic weather known as a superwind — a gigantic transfer of gas from the bright central heart of the galaxy out into space,” Hubble astronomers explained.

“This superwind is the result of driving winds from short-lived massive stars formed during LEDA 42975’s starburst as well as spectacularly energetic supernova explosions.”

“Two such supernova explosions have been seen in LEDA 42975 within the last decade — one in 2014 and the other in 2019,” the researchers added.

“The star which led to the 2019 supernova was recently determined to be 19 times as massive as our Sun!”

“At peak, supernovae are often the brightest sources of light in their galaxies, shining so bright that they can be seen clear across the Universe,” they said.

“The 2014 supernova in LEDA 42975 is still active in this image, but more than 900 days after it peaked, the supernova has faded from its former glory and looks like just one more star in this busy galaxy.”

“Though the torrent of superheated gas emanating from LEDA 42975 is truly vast in scale — extending for tens of thousands of light-years — it is invisible in this image.”

“The superwind’s extremely high temperature makes it stand out as a luminous plume in X-ray or radio observations, but it doesn’t show up at the visible wavelengths imaged by Hubble.”

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